Purifying an unclean person
1: And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2: This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: 3: And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: 4: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: 5: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: 6: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7: Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. 8: And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. 9: And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. 10: And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever. 11: He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. 12: He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. 13: Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. 14: This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15: And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. 16: And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17: And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18: And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19: And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. 20: But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. 21: And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. 22: And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.
Moses and Aaron sin
1: Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. 2: And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3: And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4: And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? 5: And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. 6: And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. 7: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 8: Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9: And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10: And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11: And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 13: This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.
Edom refuses passage to Israel
14: And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: 15: How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: 16: And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: 17: Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. 18: And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19: And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet. 20: And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. 21: Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.
22: And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor. 23: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, 24: Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. 25: Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: 26: And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. 27: And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28: And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount. 29: And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.
After describing how the priests are to be purified the Lord then explains how unclean people are purified. There then follows the sobering passage which describes the sin of Moses and Aaron. The tribe of Edom on the far south eastern part of Canaan refuse safe passage of the children of Israel through their territory. And in the end of today’s reading Aaron passes away. But first the Lord provides the ordinance for the cleansing of the unclean. It all centres on the offering of the Red Heifer. This is a female cow that is without blemish and has never worked. It is killed outside the camp and the blood is sprinkled seven times before the Lord. Next the whole animal is burnt completely. After ward the priest washes and puts on clean clothes. He is unclean until evening. Another man a clean man takes the ash and puts them in a clean place. Then this man washes and is unclean till the evening. The ash of the red heifer is used in water as a means of purification. It was this water that was lacking at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. Then we read that when Miriam died the people complained to Moses and Aaron for bringing them into the wilderness. There was no water for the cleansing for those who were to bury her – Moses and Aaron. The Lord appeared to Moses and Aaron saying speak to the rock and you will have water. Moses was stressed out and he gathered the people together and struck the rock twice and water came out in abundance. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and rebuked them from striking the rock saying that they would not go into the land. This is the place Meribah. Next we see that Moab the tribe that descended from Lot refused Israel to pass through the land. The request was friendly and polite yet the king of Moab refused rudely and promised war if they came that way. Israel found another way. The children of Israel went by the way of Hor. It the mountain of Hor Aaron was stripped of his high priestly clothes and they were given to his son Eleazar. Then Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. The children of Israel mourned for Aaron for 50 days.